Villagers in this remote area of Chipinge South were anticipating a bumper harvest but the dry spell that has hit some parts of the country lately has left their crops wilting in the fields. The people of Chipinge normally plant small grain crops that are drought resistant such as rapoko and sorghum but these crops this time around could not stand the dry spell. Cotton is the only crop that seem to be doing well in the area but villagers who spoke to Radio VOP said the harvest is going to be below 50 percent.
Radio VOP came across a group of ten women who were slashing tall grass along the Tanganda – Chiredzi highway. In normal circumstances the slashing of grass along the country’s highways is supposed to be done by the Ministry of Roads. These women at the end of the month they get food hand outs from Christian care which has initiated the food for work project.
Phillipa Mtetwa who leads this group of 10 women said they have been slashing along the highway and doing other road maintenance work for the past three months.
“The amount of food one gets depends on how big one’s family is. If one has registered that they are five in their family they get a US$50kg bag of maize meal and five bottles of cooking oil,” said Mtetwa.
She said they were getting basic food stuff such as dried fish, cooking oil, soya chunks, beans and maize meal.
“If we had not been engaging in food for work, we could be starving by now,” said Mtetwa.
Another elderly woman who is part of the grass slashing project, Lucia Mhlanga, said some children had stopped going to school because of hunger.
“Children were absconding classes because of hunger and some young high school girls were now engaging in prostitution so as to put food on the table,” said Mhlanga.
Mhlanga said before Christian Care came to their rescue they had been engaged in some piece jobs at a farm owned by a company called SABOT in Chisumbanje area, which is approximately 40 kilometres from Manzvire. SABOT is a company that is building a multimillion ethanol plant in Chisumbanje and when the project is finished it is expected to create jobs for thousands of people in Chipinge area.
Mtetwa said their dilemma now was that the Christian Care food for work project is coming to an end at the end of March and she does not know how they will survive after that.
“Christian Care has indicated that they are going to suspend the project at the end of this month and we don’t know how we are going to survive,” said Mtetwa.
The secretary of the group Joice Mwaangireni said their wish is to venture into some income generating projects such as sewing clothes and brick moulding.
“If we could get a donor who will give us sewing machines we can start income generating projects that can help us look after our families,” said Mwaangireni.
Mark Karinda the Christian Care regional area manager for Manicaland refused to shed more light on the projects they are carrying saying only Reverend Matonga the national director can comment on the humanitarian work they are doing.
“We are assisting the government in food distribution through empowering the community in doing projects that can help them,” said Karinda.
Manzvire and areas such as Checheche, Chibuwe, Tanganda and some areas in Buhera are some parts of Manicaland that have been hit hard by drought and they would need food assistance from the government.